Chocolate Stout Cake

21 Jun

Since the gingerbread recipe I found on the smittenkitchen website was absolutely amazing, I decided my next endeavor would be a chocolate stout cake also found on the same website.  It looked amazing, and there’s nothing wrong with a nice, moist, delicious chocolate cake, is there?

The recipe is fairly straightforward, and it’s another recipe involving alcohol.  Another stout recipe.  Unfortunately, Young’s double chocolate stout seems impossible to find in the stores in the UK (it was something that I could find in several locations while I was living in Santa Cruz), so I again had to use Guinness instead.  I’m fairly positive that Young’s would add something to this cake as the chocolate flavor would add to any sort of rich, chocolate dessert.

Since I have a fan-assisted oven, which in the states is often called a convection oven, I’ve been having to learn to deal with changing the temperature while baking.  Most cake recipes seem to be at 350 degrees F, which is approximately 180 degrees C.  Using a fan-assisted oven, most things require a temperature of at least twenty degrees cooler.  However, I’ve been baking my cakes at 150 degrees C, which is 30 degrees cooler than the standard recommendation.  Mostly, this is because I’m concerned that the cakes will become overdone.  In most cases, the recommended baking times seem to correspond directly with the lowered baking temperatures, so it hasn’t been much of a concern.  This cake did take about 15 minutes longer than the recommended 35 minutes, but I did think that 35 minutes seemed a bit short for a bundt cake baking time anyway, so I wasn’t too concerned.

I did have some problems when trying to make the ganache.  I mixed together the chocolate, cream, and espresso powder in my makeshift double boiler (which is just a small fry pan over a boiling pot of water).  I’ve never had problems with this approach before when I needed to melt chocolate in a double boiler like situation.  Everything was going well, the chocolate melting smoothly into the cream when suddenly things just went sour.  The ganache got a bit chunky.  It wasn’t smoothing out, and I was concerned that I overcooked it as the chocolate didn’t seem to make a nice smooth topping.  I thought it could be due to too much chocolate and not enough cream, so I added a bit more cream to see if that would fix the issue.  Unfortunately, that seemed to be the opposite of what was going on as the extra cream caused the ganache to be even more clumpy and gross than before.  Luckily, I had a bit more chocolate, so I threw that in to the mix, which brought the ganache back to it’s original chunkiness.  Clearly I had made a mistake, but as I had never made ganache before, I had no idea what was going on.  I think I might have been cooking it over too much steam, but it also seemed like I wasn’t using enough chocolate.  It’s really hard to say until I try something like that again.  Needless to say I ended up using the chunky ganache over the cake.  I’m actually a bit embarrassed to post a photo of this cake as it looks pretty terrible, but I suppose the point of the blog is to post the good and the bad, so here it goes:

The chunkiness of the ganache is clearly visible.  Fortunately, it doesn’t deter from the taste, as the cake is definitely moist, intense, and delicious.  I really like the ganache as I used a mix of 85% dark chocolate and 70% dark chocolate.  It’s got an intense, bitter, chocolate taste which I love.  Tom finds it a bit too bitter.  He’s not a fan of too dark of chocolate, and honestly in this case, it could be that the ganache didn’t work due to the percent of chocolate in the mixture.  Either way, I’m sure we’ll enjoy it nonetheless.

I’m thinking about moving away from bundt cakes in the future, but it’s pretty much the only cake pan I have at the moment.  I also found online a large number of bundt cake recipes I want to try, so it’s possible that I’ll keep making them.  Tom’s birthday is in a few weeks, so I’m sure he’ll want something nice for that, so maybe I’ll be buying a few more cake pans and baking something delicious (and non-bundt) for that.

EDIT:  It’s amazing what Google can do for you.  I just did a Google search for “clumpy ganache” and the first hit I got gave me some amazing advice!  It can happen by either overheating the ganache and causing it to break (which is what I’m pretty sure happened to me) or by using pieces of chocolate that are too big (which I have to say I’m also guilty of doing).  This site recommends making ganache by heating the cream and then adding it to the chocolate instead of the double boiler method used on the smitten kitchen website.  I have actually done something like that in the past when making the biggest chocolate cake I’ve ever made.  Next time, I’ll do that, and hopefully I won’t have a problem with it breaking.  I’ll also make sure to break up the pieces into smaller ones.  (That is probably why the website said to use chocolate chips instead of breaking up bars of chocolate.)

I also realized I’m not posting any of the recipes on my blog.  So far, all the recipes were recipes I’ve found online.  I think if I don’t use a recipe that I’ve found somewhere on the internet, I’ll try to remember to post the recipe.  All the recipes I’ve made, I have been linking to in order for people to recreate my masterpieces (or failures).


Posted by on June 21, 2011 in Cake


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4 responses to “Chocolate Stout Cake

  1. Chris Grgs

    June 21, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    I’ve had that problem with making a chocolate ganash before… I haven’t quite figured out exactly what causes it, but it just does it sometimes… It might just be something to do with the brand of chocolate or something. I made three different type of ganash at christmas for prentzels one year, and one of them turned out clumpy like that, and the other two perfect. It was frustrating.

  2. margaretedith

    June 21, 2011 at 5:18 PM

    Grant! What a fun blog idea! I love Smitten Kitchen. I also love that you called her Smitten Kitten and posted us to a sex site.
    Wish I could tell you what was up with your ganache. Valiant effort, though!

    • Grant

      June 21, 2011 at 5:26 PM

      Wow. What a faux pas! Thanks for alerting me to my mistake. Clearly that’s why I need readers in order to make sure that I don’t accidently make me watch internet porn.

      Thanks for reading!

      Yeah, I wish I knew what happened to my ganache as well. It’s a bit of a pain, but I’ll have to figure it out. Maybe google will know.

    • Grant

      June 21, 2011 at 5:37 PM

      You should also let me know next time you and David are on this side of the pond! 🙂 It would be fun to hang out on this side of the world!


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